In the city of Dhanarupa, there lived a man of the wood-seller caste whose name was Acinta, which means ‘He Who Is Beyond Thought’. He was very poor and longed day and night for wealth; he had no other interest in the world than how he could obtain money and fortune. But since these were only daydreams, he became discouraged and went off to a deserted place to brood.

The yogin Kambala came along, saw this woodseller, and said,

“You are alone and silent in this lonely spot. What is it that you are thinking about, sitting here?”

“I am depressed, yogin, for my heart dwells on money and worldly fortunes. I can not think about anything else.”

“If there were instructions to find wealth and fortune, could you practice them?” asked the yogin.

“Without a method, I cannot practice anything,” the man said.

And he requested instruction. The yogin then initiated him into Carasamvara and gave him these instructions on the profound Perfecting Stage:

How can you obtain wealth by just wishful thinking?

Give up these daydreams, which are like the son of a barren woman. The best body has the nature of the sky.

Contemplate that your mind is as bright as the many stars, and you will become like the god of wealth himself.

When these things become evident, then everything you desire will arise.

The wood-seller meditated accordingly. He fused his ideas about wealth and fortune with the stars, and dissolved these stars into the nature of the sky. And in this way, he became devoid of conceptions.

Then his guru came again and said,

“Having spoken with no conceptions whatsoever, you have become free of them.

Since your nature has become like the sky, did you use it as an object, or what?

If you meditate free of color and shape, in what way can you desire things?”

Having realized the meaning of this, the wood-seller obtained the siddhi of Mahamudra. He became famous as the guru Acinta, and instructed others on the real nature of things, working for the benefit of living beings for three hundred years. Then with a circle of followers measureless in extent, he went in that very body to the realm of the Dakas.

James B. Robinson. Buddha’s Lions: The Lives of the Eighty-Four Siddhas (Tibetan Translation Series) (Kindle Locations 999-1005). Kindle Edition.

Fetters and stages

“There are these ten fetters. Which ten? Five lower fetters & five higher fetters. And which are the five lower fetters?

  • self-identity views
  • uncertainty
  • grasping at precepts & practices
  • sensual desire, & ill will

These are the five lower fetters. And which are the five higher fetters?

  • passion for form
  • passion for what is formless
  • conceit
  • restlessness, & ignorance

These are the five higher fetters. And these are the ten fetters.”

“Sanyojana Sutta: Fetters” (AN 10.13), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, 4 July 2010,

There are four stages of Awakening: Stream-Entry, Once-Returning, Non-Returning and Fully Awakened. The Stream-Entrant is permanently free from the first 3 fetters. The Once-Returner is also free from the first 3 and, in addition, has weakened sensual desire and ill-will to some extent. The Non-Returner has completely cut off sensual desire and ill-will (in addition to the first 3 fetters). The Arahant (literally means “Worthy One”), who is fully Awake, is free from all 10 of these fetters.

It is possible to determine who is definitely not Awakened, but it is not possible to determine who definitely is Awakened.

For example, if a person doubts whether or not it is possible to reach Full Awakening, then you can be sure that they are not a Stream-Entrant because the second fetter (which Thanissaro Bhikkhu translated as “uncertainty”) refers to doubt/uncertainty about the validity of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

Another example: if a person gets angry, then you can rule them out from being a Non-Returner or an Arahant because they are supposed to be free from ill-will.

However, you might come across someone who shows no signs of anger, lust, restlessness, doubt, etc. – yet they might not even be a Stream-Entrant. Why? Because it is possible to temporarily suppress these hindrances without permanently cutting off their root cause.

Outwardly, such a person may appear to act and speak as we might expect an Arahant would act and speak, yet, we cannot be sure.
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